The Super Lotus Sourcing Story

Sara Anderson

Global Brand Storytelling

6 min read

Our Impact

Sourcing lotus plants ethically* from the farm to your skin

fresh's ethically sourced super lotus

Sourcing the highest quality natural ingredients to nurture your skin has always been at the heart of our brand. However, finding a way to give back and nurture the skin of the earth is just as important to us. For our powerful Lotus Skincare Collection, we turned to Alabama, USA—Ten Mile Creek Farm, to be specific. While sourcing our youth-preserving lotus plants that create our Super Lotus ingredient, we ensure that we help the community’s people and the biodiversity of Ten Mile Creek Farm thrive.

In 2020, we became a member of the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) to improve the way we source and work with ingredient suppliers. By 2023, our Super Lotus ingredient reached UEBT verified ethically sourced* level. Here, we discuss our initial obsession with the lotus plant and the evolving journey we went on to improve our sourcing practices and relationship with Laura Bancroft, who runs the Ten Mile Creek Farm.

The Lotus Plant: A preservation of beauty

The lotus plant has been around for over 138 million years, and its seeds are viable for centuries. The journey from seed to flower is one of resilience and perseverance as the flower buds at murky depths and makes its way to the surface, where it blooms beautifully under the blue sky. This story fascinated our co-founder, Lev Glazman, and he knew that he wanted to tap into the plant’s ability to preserve its beauty for the skin. And so, our search for the sacred lotus plant led us to the largest lotus-based farm in the United States, Ten Mile Creek Farm.

Named after a creek that runs through the property (that hasn’t dried up for over 100 years), Ten Mile Creek Farm is a multi-generational agricultural endeavour started by the Kennedy-Bancroft family in South Alabama in the early 1900s. The farm started off growing cotton, peanuts, and corn, then pine trees and fish (specifically catfish and tilapia). However, overseas competition made fish production inviable, and the ponds were left unused. That’s when an ingredient supplier of fresh approached the farm about growing lotus plants for one of their sourcing projects.

“[Ten Mile Creek Farm] is now the largest business based solely on growing lotus in the United States,” says Laura Bancroft. “We sell over 400 cultivars of ornamental lotus rhizomes via the Internet, both wholesale and retail. Our partnership means that our lotus is featured in some of the most respected brands in the world.”

A lotus success story: From farm to face

There is a wide range of types of lotus plants out there, but fresh sources the sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), which has a large petal flower that’s commonly pink and white. During sourcing at Ten Mile Creek Farm, the lotus plants are handpicked right from the water between mid-July and August while they are in full bloom.

Our Super Lotus extract from the whole living plant—flower, stem, and leaves—is used in our AHA serum, dream cream, daily moisturiser, eye cream, and face mask. Using an on-site mobile lab, a scientist ensures the active molecules are still intact after the plant is harvested. This is the part where we want to capture the potent plant molecules that help preserve the skin’s youth. From here, the plant juice is extracted. A revolutionary youth-fractionation technique off-site is used to isolate the plant cell fractions to create the concentrated ingredient.

We return any plant by-products to the soil to help maintain ecological balance.

Sustainability standards

“It was our duty to protect the land so that it would produce what we needed to survive and grow—then and in the future.” This is Bancroft’s grandfather’s farming philosophy that she recalls from her childhood. These are the same standards we, as a brand, hold ourselves accountable to today.

These standards are what drive us to advance sourcing practices that help people and biodiversity thrive. The natural world is made up of a magnificent menagerie of living things—plants, animals, fungi, and even microorganisms—that make up our earth’s biodiversity. These species work in cohesion to maintain balance and support life in our complex ecosystems.

As a member of the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT), fresh is continually evolving how we select and source our ingredients. Ensuring that they are sustainable and they benefit the community connected to them. We want to build partnerships with providers that elevate the brand and industry to a new standard while finding ways to inspire one another.

“UEBT standards provide a framework…so that you’re not just hitting it once in a while,” explains Bancroft. “With the framework, it gives [you] something to work for, to work towards, and to gauge your success.”

Meeting these requirements involves on-site assessments against the strict UEBT standard. The verification process is based on UEBT’s 7 principles (biodiversity conservation, sustainable use of biodiversity, systems for ethical sourcing, legal compliance, respect for worker rights, fair and equitable benefit sharing). The aim is to show improvement in the way we source ingredients and to portray its impact on communities and biodiversity.

Ethically sourced*

The improvements to our sourcing process are an ongoing journey, and since 2020, we haven’t stopped searching for ways to evolve effectively. During harvest season in July 2023, the sourcing of our Super Lotus ingredient was assessed by UEBT using their full field checklist of more than 100 criteria and verified to be ethically sourced* level. This is the highest level achievable in a UEBT onsite verification. This means that our sourcing practices for our Super Lotus (used in our Lotus Skincare Collection) promote a positive impact on people and biodiversity.

What did we change to reach this status? On top of having a transparent supply chain and organic agricultural practices, we improved in three core areas:

Water analysis

Ten Mile Creek Farm is home to all sorts of life that rely on its water, such as the gopher tortoise, for instance, which was recently removed from Alabama’s endangered species list. In partnership with Ten Mile Creek Farm, we needed to implement a monitoring system to ensure that pond water is safe and viable for all living things in the area. We also look for any presence of toxic substances or residue, as well as biological components, to confirm there’s no risk of cross-contamination as the water is drained back to the wetlands area.

Renewable energy

While the farm's energy consumption was always known and tracked, UEBT recommended adopting new measures to optimise energy use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So, we installed a solar panel pump system to reduce energy consumption when draining the ponds for harvest. “Today, crystal clear water flows into the lotus ponds via renewable energy, removing us from the standard energy grid,” says Bancroft.

Workers’ contracts

The community is a key component of protecting the planet, and taking care of people is essential to our core values. Alabama is an “at will” state, so it’s uncommon for agricultural workers to receive a written standard job contract. This was something we wanted to change, so in 2023, Ten Mile Creek Farm’s full-time employees were given written employment contracts. This is a valuable step for the protection of human rights—particularly for the more vulnerable groups. The onsite UEBT assessment verified employees’ working conditions as “very good.”

As fresh, we strive to show the same care and commitment to the earth’s skin as we do our own. This means protecting biodiversity and communities. We are committed to helping create a world that is forever connected and forever fresh.

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Sara Anderson

Global Brand Storytelling

Written by Sara Anderson for Fresh. Sara is a NYC-based global marketer and beauty content strategist. Sara has 12+ years of experience conceptualizing and producing original content in beauty, fashion, music, and entertainment. Sara has created content for Fast Company, Us Weekly, Birchbox, and with her expertise most recently in the beauty space.